James Gunn has a fondness for adapting obscure comic book characters to the screen and making audiences care about them. He did it in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, DC’s The Suicide Squad and now he’s doing it again with Peacemaker. As well as John Cena’s titular crimefighter, the HBO Max series features a bunch of similarly D-list characters from the comics given new life. Among them is Emilia Harcourt, as portrayed by Jennifer Holland.
Holland — who’s been in a relationship with Gunn since 2015 — previously appeared as Holland in The Suicide Squad, although she was primarily there just for exposition in her capacity as one of Amanda Waller’s underlings. In Peacemaker, however, there’s much more room to explore Emilia’s inner life and personality. While that’s definitely a good thing, Holland has admitted that it was a “challenge” to have the character expanded so much.
While speaking to Collider, Holland revealed that she wasn’t even originally due to play Emilia Harcourt in TSS before Gunn decided to make use of the character, which is why she’s not as “strong” in the film as in the show.
As Holland explained:
“I had a bit of a challenge trying to meld who Harcourt was in The Suicide Squad into who she was in the series because she’s a very different person than she was in Suicide Squad, I think because James wrote the character as Comms Tech 2, or something like that. She was just a comms hub tech who became sort of a more important character as he was writing The Suicide Squad, and at some point he was like, ‘I’m gonna give her a name from the comics so that when the fans watch the credits they go, oh my gosh, that was Emilia Harcourt! And they have something to be excited about, and it’s a little bit of an Easter egg.’ It was basically why he gave me the name Emilia Harcourt. So my character, when he was writing me in the movie, didn’t really have that much to do with Emilia Harcourt from the comics or anything that was going to be who she is in the series, so she’s a bit different in the film in that she is not as strong of a person as she is in the series.”
In the comics, Emilia was an NSA agent sent to aid Waller in monitoring the Suicide Squad. She’s a relatively minor character, with only 14 appearances to her name since her creation in 2016, so Gunn was free to reimagine Harcourt how he saw fit. As it happens, Peacemaker has established an unlikely will-they/won’t-they romantic connection between Holland’s Harcourt and Cena’s Christopher Smith.
Also starring the likes of Danielle Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Chukwudi Iwuj, Steve Agee, and Robert Patrick, Peacemaker has half of its eight-part first season still to go. Catch new episodes as they premiere Thursdays on HBO Max. A second season isn’t officially happening yet, but the possibility hasn’t been ruled out.